Tour Wrap – Eye Of The Sword

It’s been a long time since the CSFF Blog Tour has had a controversial tour such as we had last week for Karyn Henley’s Eye of the Sword, book two of the Angeleon Circle. While the majority of bloggers participating in the tour agreed that the book was well-written, the story engaging, the characters well-drawn, a good number had trouble with the way angels appeared in the book. It’s certainly a question I felt needed to be addressed, and the side of the issue a person falls probably determines how they reacted to Eye of the Sword.

In all we had 32 bloggers post a total of 48 articles featuring author Karyn Henley and/or the book.

Most enthusiastic award goes to Theresa Dunlap for her fine review. We have a good group of participants who posted all three days of the tour, making them eligible for the Top Tour Blogger Award:

All that’s left, then, is the voting. The check marks beside each post link to a tour article. Take some time this week to pursue the articles that interest you–reviews, an author interview, discussions on the use of angels, personal growth, and more. Then vote in the poll below for the blogger you think deserves the recognition of Top Tour Blogger for August. The poll will remain open until midnight, Sunday, September 2.

Thanks in advance for taking part.

Published in: on August 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm  Comments Off on Tour Wrap – Eye Of The Sword  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Eye Of The Sword, Day 3

Without a doubt, the CSFF tour for Book two of the Angeleon Circle, Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley, is one of the more controversial ones in some time. How are we to understand angels? Is the book Christian? These are big questions for fantasy readers and Christians. In so many ways the discussion touches at the heart of the Harry Potter debates–but with angels instead of wizards.

My Review

The Story. Trevin, an orphan who used to steal for a living and served an evil lord who tried to assassin the legitimate ruler, is a young man newly trusted by his king to shoulder the role of comain, or protector of the crown and country. The story of his transformation to one so favored apparently is told in the first book of the Angeleon Circle, Breath of Angel.

There are only a handful of comains, and in fact those are missing. The king wishes Trevin to find them, starting first by traveling to the Oracle to receive a sign or prophecy. He also wants Trevin to act as an ambassador to the country in the north, seeking to strengthen or renew their alliance.

The king’s daughter, newly discovered to be the princess (also part of the first book), wants Trevin to help her in a task she believes to be more important than anything the king has asked–a task her mother died trying to accomplish. She wants to find the three kyparis harps and reunite them. This alone will restore the Wisdom Tree and the ladder to heaven, making it possible for the angels trapped on earth to return and renew their work of leading souls of the dead to their destination.

Trevin sets out reluctantly. A prince of their rival kingdom is offering peace if he can but marry the princess–the girl who has vowed to marry no one else but Trevin. But with the good of her land at stake, and the possibility of finding one of the harps in the rival kingdom, how can she refuse?

Trevin determines to find the harps for her, acquire the alliance with the northern kingdom, and a sign from the Oracle, so his king won’t have need of a peace treaty with the rivals. But even if he’s successful, he may be too late. The royal house is preparing for a wedding.

Strengths. The thing that impressed me the most about Eye of the Sword was how interdependent it is upon book one and book three and yet how complete it felt as a story in its own right. Ms. Henley did a masterful job weaving in the details of the previous story–the cause of much of the internal conflict and some of the external conflict of this story.

The main character has clear goals from the beginning, and although he feels overwhelmed, pursues them in a logical, believable way. Unexpected events happen that keep him from achieving what he hoped, but each setback also leads him into further adventure. In other words, I had every reason to cheer him on.

In addition, he has secrets. His past haunts him and even though the girl he loves has forgiven him, he hasn’t told her everything. His struggles with guilt and self-recrimination are believable. They make this character someone I cared about.

At the same time, I couldn’t help but think, this guy needs a Redeemer. He needs his past washed clean. I have no way of knowing if the story will take this kind of direction, but some events mirror elements of a Christian’s new life, so I would certainly not be surprised if this came to the forefront in book three.

The story was fast paced and exciting; the writing was crisp and concise; the characters, flawed but noble.

Weakness. Unlike some of those participating on the tour, I wasn’t looking for overt Christianity in this story because I quickly identified the angels of the Angeleon Circle as not Biblical angels. Therefore, I wasn’t expecting a depiction of God. I wish there hadn’t been one. While there isn’t much, there is one reference to “the Most High” as the “father-mother of the universe.” That one cut too close to false teaching. It’s hard to think of “the Most High” as anyone but God making the description non-Biblical at best–which is pretty bad, to be honest. However, this was an “in passing” reference, and certainly the Most High is not a main player in the story. Consequently, while I cringed when I read that line, it did not become a constant thorn in my reading side.

Recommendations. I loved Eye of the Sword. It’s my kind of fantasy–I think. I do want Christian parallels in Christian fantasy, even though they may not be obvious. I see potential, so I want to give this one the benefit of the doubt because it was well written and exciting. It is, after all, the second third of the entire story, so I have reason to believe there may be more depth to the final installment. Highly recommend to readers who love high fantasy, angels not withstanding. 😉

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Published in: on August 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm  Comments Off on CSFF Blog Tour – Eye Of The Sword, Day 3  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Eye Of The Sword, Day 2

Christian or not Christian, that is the question. Yesterday I made a pitch for reading the angels in Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley as “elves with wings.” In other words, they are not Biblical angels, but beings Ms. Henley has sub-created for her fantasy world. Certainly they are good, though they act very much like humans, even intermarrying and having children. They are separated from heaven because the stairway has been destroyed, and they can even die.

The “is it Christian” question is a logical one to ask, then. Both Shannon McDermott and Chawna Schroeder make a compelling argument against understanding it as Christian. Shane Werlinger, on the other hand, found in a key story event, a parallel to the Christian life. Could it be that “Christian” is in the eye of the beholder?

By that, of course, I don’t mean there is a flexible definition of Christian. But stories that are not overt in their Christianity may be seen by one reader as nothing more than good stories and by another as filled with truth about God.

For Christians looking for overt Christianity in Eye of the Sword, they won’t find it. There aren’t even the clear parallels with Christianity that one can find in the Narnia books. C. S. Lewis specifically set out to answer the question, If the incarnate God came to Narnia, how would He show up?

In this second volume of the Angeleon Circle, God as we know Him–the One True God who revealed Himself in the Bible–is not a player. In many respects, then, Ms. Henley’s series is more reminiscent of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings than of Narnia. Tolkien’s works have also been scrutinized for their Christian content and some find them wanting. God does not show up, though various characters serve as types: “a person or thing symbolizing or exemplifying the ideal or defining characteristics of something” (Oxford English Dictionary).

Could that be true of Eye of the Sword? I’m hoping so. Because this is book two of the Angeleon Circle, and there will be at least one more in the series, I’m withholding judgment regarding what might or might not be representative of God and the way He works in the real world.

I will say, I do not expect to see Him appear in the Three Kingdoms in the same way He appears in the true world He fashioned, and in this, I think Ms. Henley has chosen wisely. Her world, her angels, are as different from our world as Narnia is, with it’s talking animals, or as Middle Earth is, with its dwarfs and dragons.

Aslan we recognized because of his redemptive sacrifice. And yet the Narnia books, when they first came out, were not without detractors. After all, pagan gods appeared in the triumphal scene of Aslan’s arrival. C. S. Lewis, of course, was a prolific writer, and anyone familiar with his non-fiction quickly recognized that he was playing out in his fiction his belief that the story of redemption also redeems mythology. It is the True Myth and therefore gives meaning to those lesser stories that point to the One Greater Story.

And yet, a good number of detractors found their points of disagreement with Lewis, insurmountable. Their number is much smaller today, however. Most Christians accept the Narnia books as part of Christian fiction.

How will Eye of the Sword be viewed twenty years from now? We can speculate, but I will hold off formulating my answer until after I’ve read the entire series.

You might be interested in reading Ms. Henley’s blog if you’d like to know more about her, and she also gave a first rate interview to Meagan @ Blooming with Books. Who knows? Maybe becoming familiar with her entire body of work will help to understand her fantasies.

CSFF Blog Tour – Eye Of The Sword, Day 1

Take a look at the cover of Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley. To me it shouts FANTASY! I mean, eye of the sword? Swords don’t have eyes. And look at that character. Long hair, decked out in armor, leather gauntlets–all quite old world or other world.

On the inside, just behind the title page is a MAP! At once, I decided I was in love. I mean, what’s a fantasy without a good map. And this is a good one. But there’s more. Behind the map is a cast of characters. That says “EPIC” to me. I mean, any story that has enough characters to necessitate a list of them to remind you who’s who, in case you might accidentally lose track, has to have a fairly broad scope.

At this point I’ll admit I checked my enthusiasm. The book isn’t thick, so I did a quick check of the page length. Two hundred thirty-three. I’ve read fantasies that are more than twice that size. Was this book being pretentious? I mean, would such a slender volume really necessitate a glossary?

I glanced at the cover again. At the top: “Angeleon Circle, Book Two.” So the cast of characters encompasses an earlier book. Pretentious concern alleviated. But … larger concern, confirmed by another glance at the cast of characters. This book is about angels.

Generally speaking, I don’t like stories that feature angels. They so rarely live up to the Biblical record or else they are flat and unrealistic. Except, I read a terrific angel story earlier this year.

Besides, if I tell concerned readers that wizards such as those in Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are imaginative creatures, not the historical and very real beings the Bible warns against, shouldn’t I be willing to consider angels in the same vein? Must they be real in stories? Reluctantly, I set that concern aside and forged ahead.

How happy I am that I did so! A few pages in, and I was engrossed in this story. I’ll give my full review later in the tour, but for now, I wanted to elaborate a little on fantasy angels.

Granted, I haven’t talked to Ms. Henley about this. I should have taken up her offer to do an interview, but since I didn’t I’m left to surmise what she intended. (At her web site she has a page on Angelology which confirms my conclusions, however.) There is so much inventive material in this story, I have to believe the angels of the Angeleon Circle are equally inventive.

First, the map I mentioned shows readers a wholly other world made up of three kingdoms: Eldarra, The Dregmoors, and Camrithia. In this imaginative world, readers learn that a once-existent stairway to heaven has been closed, cutting off a group of angels from returning. Yes, there is a hint of Jacob’s dream of angels in that element, but in the Angeleon Circle, the stairway to heaven emanated from the Wisdom Tree which has been destroyed. This is not Biblical fiction! These angels–not fallen ones–live like men and intermarry with humans. They are trapped, after all, in the Three Kingdoms world.

At any rate, I treated the various types of angels in Eye of the Sword as purely pretend beings, not intended to show readers what real angels are like. As such, I enjoyed the story immensely and could focus on what was happening and what the theme was saying.

Mine is but one view. See what other participating members of the CSFF Blog Tour are saying. Note, the check marks below link to
articles that have been posted featuring Eye of the Sword.

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